Light and shifty winds greeted the crew who assembled for Rowhedge Regatta at the civilised start time of 10am at Brightlingea’s Bateman’s Tower.
We opted for the middle of the river on the reaching start, aiming to creep up the Point Clear shore on the fetch/beat out to Colne Bar. There were plenty of holes and windshifts on the way, but by the time Maria rounded the Bar buoy we’d opened up a lead of around four minutes from My Alice and Alberta.
A useful lift on the way to Bench Head meant we laid the buoy in one, and from there it was a fetch/reach to West Mersea No 6, followed by a run back to No 8 in the Colne and from there to the line. It looked as though the wind deserted Albert and My Alice, as we finished around 13 minutes ahead – My Alice taking second after a tussle with Alberta all the way to the line.
The race up to Rowhedge saw us make a good start to get our nose ahead, but we were soon caught by My Alice, and with Alberta just a couple of boat lengths behind, it was a ‘who dares wins’ scenario as we progressed up the river. Maria rounded the bend above Alresford just in front, with My Alice pushing hard, trying to find a way through to windward and leeward. At the moorings below Wivenhoe, My Alice’s luck ran out, as a last attempt to try and break through to leeward put her on the mud.
There then followed a very tricky sail through Wivenhoe, with the wind on the nose – literally – for a lot of the time and the crew relying on the tide to carry Maria through. With the headsails loose to avoid pushing her head towards one bank or the other, we crept into Rowhedge to finish just a couple of lengths in front of Alberta, which had found a puff of wind at the last minute and came very close to catching us.
A beer and a chat followed, and as we left the rain set in properly and the push back to the mooring was a dismal business, with the visibility closing down so that the river looked more like it would on a winter’s day – and not the day before the summer solstice!
Crew for the day: Paul, David, Andy, Pete, Drew, Sally, Mark, John, Crispin and, for the trip up to Rowhedge and back, Melanie.